Vaccines protect you and your family against a number of diseases, so it’s crucial to keep them updated, health experts say.

“It’s important to review your vaccination records with your health care provider,” said Libby Richards, associate professor of nursing at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. “Vaccinations aren’t just for kids. Adults need them, too.”

Which shots adults need depends on age and health history. Vaccines help the immune system fight infections faster and more effectively.

Common vaccinations include shingles, pneumonia, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), influenza, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), hepatitis A and B and human papillomavirus (HPV), along with others.

Flu vaccination is particularly important, especially in severe flu seasons, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You need a flu shot every year, Richards noted.

Since October, at least 26 million Americans have had the flu, resulting in the deaths of at least 14,000 adults and 92 children. In its latest update on Feb. 14, the CDC said flu activity remains high in the United States.

Even if you had other vaccines in childhood, their effectiveness can weaken over time, so you may no longer be protected, Richards said.

“Pertussis — whooping cough — and tetanus vaccines are perfect examples of vaccines that require booster shots throughout one’s life,” she said in a university news release.

Shingles vaccines are effective for five years and are recommended for adults 50 and older. Pneumonia vaccines, recommended for adults 65 and older, should provide lifelong protection.

The CDC also recommends a booster for tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years.

Hepatitis A and B vaccines protect against some liver infections that can occur through exposure to infected body fluids or food and water. Each has different vaccination requirements.

“Talk to your health care provider to see what you need and when you need it,” Richards said. “Vaccinations can save lives by helping prevent or limit a disease or illness.”

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on vaccines and immunizations.